We know, from the letters of thanks we receive, that our support makes a big difference to real lives. We provide short-term help, to enable someone to get back on their feet after a crisis, as well as long-term support, via regular payments and grants.
We work in strict confidence but we are grateful to those who agree to share their stories.
David, who runs a farm with his wife, had everything he wanted, but felt something was 'not right'. As his mental health worsened, he began to drink more. A string of unfortunate circumstances befell the farm, leaving them in financial difficulty, and David felt that he had ‘crashed and hit the bottom.’
David explained: “One day I sat outside at our table. Everything was dead, there were no birds and no life. I decided I had to do something because this couldn’t carry on.”
He met R.A.B.I welfare officer Sally Hubbard, to see how the charity could help him and his family.
David added: “She went through everything and helped us put together a plan to pay off outstanding bills. Most of all, she listened. She listened without rushing me.
“Sally and R.A.B.I helped me focus on the farm and walk through the fog to see the sun and hear the birds. They helped me get back on track to do farm work again. I’m looking ahead with a smile once more.”
Following the loss of her husband Norman, Debbie Billen and son James were left with the responsibility of running their farm without a guiding hand. “It was a surreal time,” said Debbie. “But however bad we felt, we still had to get up every morning and do the milking.”
Hardest of all for Debbie was watching her son struggle to come to terms with the overwhelming responsibilities that had been placed on his shoulders, at a time when he was also trying to deal with the loss of his dad. James said: “There had been no handover so I was just coping from day to day.”
Debbie came across R.A.B.I online and made the all-important call. Welfare officer Cathy Denslow went out to meet the family and quickly arranged for them to receive a £2,000 grant to fund some temporary farm help.
“It wasn’t just about having someone to help with the work; it was such a relief for me to look out of the window and see that James had someone to talk to and he wasn’t on his own,” said Debbie.
Peter Holliday, a 53-year-old self-employed agricultural contractor from Silloth in Cumbria, was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015. His first thoughts were not about his illness or his long-term future. It was how would he and wife Ali pay the bills while he was undergoing surgery and radiotherapy? Peter said: “The disease itself didn’t really faze me, although it upset everyone around me. It was the financial side of things that bothered me.”
R.A.B.I and Macmillan Cancer Support helped him throughout his treatment – with R.A.B.I clearing some domestic bills and covering the costs of hospital travel.
Peter said: “You’ve no idea how much it meant to me to see a cheque arrive through the door, it was such a weight off my mind. All I could see was a heap of bills on the table."
Farming was all Anthony ever knew as a child. His grandfather farmed 50 acres, his dad was a farmworker and his mother used to milk 250 cows every day.
By the age of 16, Anthony was a herdsman himself, planning his future. A year later, however, life was very different. Struck down by muscular dystrophy, a serious muscle-wasting disease, Anthony found himself in a wheelchair with all of his plans on hold for good. Today, Anthony lives in a specially adapted bungalow and is unable to use his arms or legs.
R.A.B.I helped Anthony by providing him with a special bed, so he could turn himself during the night when he became uncomfortable, rather than rely on his live-in carer. We also provided a special seat and hoist for his van and an all-terrain ‘Boma’ wheelchair, giving him the freedom to go out into the countryside on his own.
Anthony said: “I really can’t thank R.A.B.I enough for what they’ve done for me, they’ve been brilliant.”